Friday, 26 March 2021
Dear Friends in Christ,
This Sunday we enter the holiest week of the Church’s year. We journey from Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday through to his crucifixion on Good Friday, and then his glorious resurrection on Easter Day. This is the week we are called to set aside the aggressions, the concerns and the fears that separate us from God and walk with him on the way of the cross. When Jesus walked that path, some two thousand years ago, he did so in humble submission in order that the whole of humanity might be drawn into a closer relationship with his heavenly Father. Throughout Lent we have been on a pilgrimage of preparation for this week. Some have made sacrificial offerings by denying themselves small pleasures. In these difficult times when we feel as though we are living through a prolonged period of Lenten denial, some have taken up additional acts of love and service towards those amongst whom they live. Some have underpinned the season of Lent with careful study of scripture and longer periods of prayer and contemplation. However you have marked Lent 2021, we are now approaching its climax and we need to consider what difference that is going to make to us as we celebrate the moment of Christ’s victory over death.
During the coming week there will be services every day. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday there will be simple services of Holy Communion at 7.30pm. Each service acts as a stepping stone towards the great commemorations of Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Then, on Maundy Thursday the great three day service begins at 8pm with our marking of the moment when Jesus instituted the service of Holy Communion as a perpetual remembrance of his unending presence with us. On Good Friday there will be three hours of devotional prayer between 12 noon and 3pm. This service is constructed in a way that allows people to join it and leave it when it is convenient for them. 12 noon and 1pm will be marked with the beginning of new periods of devotion which will be followed by times of private prayer and contemplation before the cross. At 2pm there will be the Good Friday Liturgy. At 8pm on Holy Saturday there will be the Easter Vigil which will lead into the first communion of Easter. I am very pleased to be welcoming the Bishop of Grantham to our Triduum services this year. Please set aside some time to join us as we move from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane, and then from the High Priest’s court to Golgotha, and finally through the desolation and emptiness of Holy Saturday into the inexpressible joy of the resurrection.
In 2020 we were not allowed to celebrate Holy Week and Easter, just as we were not allowed to mark the post-Easter journey to Pentecost. This year is different. Last year we had to invent ways of providing spiritual comfort and consolation as the world came to terms with the full impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. This year we are able to gather and pray and worship, albeit in a controlled and restricted way. But, let us not focus on the negative and let us rejoice that we can gather and pray and worship and commemorate the ultimate and life-giving sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Saviour.
As well as our journey through Holy Week, I am delighted to be able to announce that there will be services of Holy Communion in every one of the churches in our benefice on Easter Day. Let us gather together and rejoice in the victory of Christ over all that separates us from God.
With every blessing to you all,